Burglary vs. Robbery: What’s the Difference?

Many people mix up burglary and robbery, but the two offenses are very different. They often occur together, but may also occur in conjunction with other crimes or on their own. Below, we detail the differences between burglary and robbery.

How Does Florida Law Define Burglary?

Burglary occurs when someone enters a house, business, or other structure with the intent to commit a crime, such as theft, robbery, or rape. You might also hear officers refer to this as breaking and entering.

An important component of the definition of burglary under Florida law is that the offender entered a place he was not supposed to be. Breaking in is not a prerequisite to this charge, however. Entering uninvited through an unlocked door of a private residence, remaining in an area after closing time, or otherwise being somewhere you do not belong, and then remaining there to commit a crime could all warrant burglary charges.

For example, a perpetrator broke into a business with the intention of stealing cash and other valuables, but the alarm sounded and he never stole anything. He could still face burglary charges because of his intent to commit a crime.

How Does Florida Law Define Robbery?

Robbery, under Florida law, occurs when someone takes money, property, or other assets from their owner or possessor using force, violence, or threats of violence.

To face valid robbery charges, the perpetrator must have had the intent to keep the stolen items from the owner, even if only temporarily. Robbery often occurs in conjunction with other crimes, including burglary, assault, and battery.

If the perpetrator walks into a business, brandishes a gun, and takes cash from the store clerk, he has committed robbery. If the perpetrator broke into a business after hours, threatened to shoot a clerk who was closing up shop, and stole the cash, he would have committed both robbery and burglary. He might also face aggravated assault charges for threatening the clerk with the gun.

How Do Burglary and Robbery Differ?

In addition to being two totally different crimes that often occur together, each crime has different penalties.


Third-Degree Felony Burglary

This offense occurs if a perpetrator:

  • Enters an empty “structure or conveyance;” and
  • Does not commit an assault or battery; and
  • Does not arm himself before he enters or while he is inside the “structure or conveyance.”

Second-Degree Felony Burglary

A perpetrator commits second-degree felony burglary if he unlawfully enters or remains:

  • In a “dwelling” (i.e., a place of residence) when someone is or is not there; or
  • In a conveyance or structure when someone is there.

First-Degree Felony Burglary

A perpetrator faces first-degree felony charges if, in the course of committing burglary, he:

  • Commits assault or battery; or
  • Is armed or arms himself; or
  • Enters a dwelling or structure by using a motor vehicle as an instrument and damages the property; or
  • Causes property damage in excess of $1,000


Robbery is a second-degree felony if the perpetrator did not carry a firearm, deadly weapon, or other weapon.

Robbery is a first-degree felony if the perpetrator carried a weapon, firearm, or other deadly weapon.

Perpetrators face a $5,000 fine and five years in jail for third-degree felony.

Second-degree felony charges carry a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.

First-degree felony charges could warrant up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine.

If you face both charges, we may be able to negotiate a plea bargain to drop one of the charges or reduce the degree of the felony you face. This is often effective in greatly reducing the sentence you receive. We can also fight to protect your clean record, representing you in court and defending you against false accusations. Call us today, and we can help you understand the options available to you based on the facts of your case.

How Can I Talk to a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney About My Case?

The legal team at Goldman Wetzel can provide legal advice and guidance, protecting your rights and fighting for you. We can help you understand the implications of each charge against you, and develop a comprehensive defense on your behalf. If you face a burglary or robbery accusation, give us a call today at 727-828-3900 to schedule a free case evaluation.